Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways on Sunday became the latest Middle Eastern carriers to gain exemptions from a ban on large electronic devices in the cabins of airliners flying into the U.S., joining Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines and Emirates Airline as U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials complete their inspections of several airports in the region for compliance with new security measures. The exemptions follow the DHS's institution of “enhanced” security protocols including increased scrutiny of laptop computers at screening points at some 280 airports in 105 countries in lieu of a planned expansion of the ban to flights originating in Europe.
The U.S. ban, instituted in March only days before similar ban by the UK took effect, remains in place at Cairo International Airport, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, and Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca.
The ban on personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone, along with efforts by U.S. president Donald Trump to prohibit citizens from several Muslim-majority nations from entering the country, has most affected traffic among the three big Persian Gulf airports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, all three of which now enjoy an exemption from the laptop ban. In response to that ban, Emirates Airline cut services to five of its 12 U.S. destinations from Dubai, resulting in a 20-percent decline in capacity between the two destinations.
Emirates has not yet said when it might reinstate any of that service; however, Qatar Airways plans to proceed with its planned launch of flights to San Francisco next year as part of its continuing expansion within the U.S.
Separately, the Doha-based airline has said it will also proceed with a planned 4.75-percent investment in OneWorld partner American Airlines in the face of public skepticism expressed by executives of the U.S. carrier and labor groups.